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This is the first part in a series of articles about memorizing Scripture. This article will be concerned with why one should memorize Scripture. Subsequent articles will concern specific techniques to aid in memorizing individual verses and then techniques in memorizing longer passages, such as chapters and books of the Bible.
So, before we look at techniques for memorizing parts of the Bible, we must first ask: Why should we go to the trouble of memorizing the Bible? Here are some reasons:
1. We are commanded to: "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts" (Deut. 6:6). "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads" (Deut. 11:18).
2. Storing the Word of God in our hearts and minds helps us to obey it: "...the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it" (Deut. 30:14); "The law of God is in his heart; his feet do not slip" (Ps. 37:31); "I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You" (Ps. 119:11).
3. It will make us prosperous (because of our increased obedience): "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful" (Josh. 1:8).
4. It prevents vain and evil thoughts. When memorizing scripture, one must necessarily dwell on the Word of God during one's spare time. This will crowd out less edifying thoughts. Through Scripture memorization one can easily obey Paul's exhortation: "...whatever is true, whatever noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things" (Phil. 4:8).
5. It is a battle against temptation. Christ is our example on this point. In Matt. 4 and Luke 4, He resisted Satan's temptations each time by citing Scripture. Paul states that the Word of God is a weapon in spiritual warfare: "Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Eph. 6:17).
6. It increases our understanding of the verses that are memorized. To memorize, one must know every single word and dwell on every single word. While doing this, one naturally asks oneself, "why this word?" Meditation on each word will, through the Spirit, give one a deep understanding of the verse and reveal meanings that are hidden to a cursory reading. "I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on Your statutes" (Ps. 119:99).
7. It aids in witnessing and teaching. If the Word is in your heart, the Holy Spirit will bring it to mind at the appropriate time. "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom" (Col. 3:16).
8. When without a Bible, one can still meditate, counsel, comfort and reprove from the Word of God. "Even at night my heart instructs me" (Ps. 16:7).
9. It aids us in our prayers. What better way to talk to God than to be familiar with the language of God through His Word. Note Paul says: "Take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" and then "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests" (Eph. 6:17,18).
10. It improves our everyday conversation. What we say reflects what we meditate on and store in our hearts. "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt. 12:34).
Now, Heavenly Father, give us the desire and the means to store Your perfect Word in our hearts; direct the time and the circumstances to accomplish this; give us diligence to be faithful in this; give us the opportunity to make fruitful use of the Word that we store in our hearts. We ask these things in the name of and for the glory of Jesus Christ, Amen.
(Next issue: techniques to aid in the memorization of Bible verses.)
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